Year 5 - Day 179: Today, I am grateful I was taught priorities.
Now, just because we are taught something, doesn't me we have caught what we were supposed to learn. That can take a lifetime.
As a young adult, I heard this phrase that has stuck with me, although I don't know the source. I wrote it in my college Bible with no author:
"Whoever your Lord is - will also be your shepherd." Powerful, right?
Who (or what) we worship will direct our lives.
The 4th of July - our United States of America birthday party and holiday, is just around the bend. We love the 4th! We have some rich traditions with friends we considered family... and a new marriage has actually sealed deal. The Leander/Roth/Smiths will gather again at the river to watch the best fireworks show I have seen outside of Disney.
Fellowship, fun and some food make what looks like a long wait go by quickly. We set up our spot pretty early and everyone knows where to find our special spot. The 4th of July is uncomplicated (except getting out of Peoria at the end of the night), relaxing and good.
A local radio station will host the music. We begin with the Star Spangled Banner sung by a talented local citizen. I have a musical check-off list. Songs required in the show for an A+ rating on the music. I need Salute to the Armed Forces that includes the songs of each branch of military service and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA". These two are required. They speak to the heart of the celebration and the sacrifices that granted us the freedoms we know and take for granted. It is a reminder that freedom isn't free.
The USA has a history of the acknowledgement of God as Lord written into the documents that birthed our nation. Many courageously crossed the ocean for the purpose of religious freedom. To worship without persecution or fear was a dream they pursued. They weren't perfect men, but they were committed to the cause. They labored over the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution. The didn't leave God out.
It has often made me think of this verse, written of the Israelites, but Jesus paid the price that all may be free to choose to call him Lord. Our choice reflects our inheritance.
whose God , people he chose for his inheritance. -Psalm 33:12
Jesus instructed us with the Great Commission to "go and make disciples of every nation". He endured the cross that we might be redeemed. He blew down the doors when he submitted to the cross, forgave us our sins (even those sins acted in ignorance) and conquered death to gain a warrior's victory.
After 400 years of what seemed like silence and keeping the status quo ... God began boldly moving again when Jesus was born to be God with us. The people of Israel had to notice and make a choice. Accept or reject. His gospel of his birth, life, death, resurrection, commission to believers and ascension continues to be shared. It is still changing live.
I was struck by this scripture about a year ago:
The door is open to all nations, but submission to His laws and recognition of his sovereignty is required at confession of faith.
A nation can be rich in resources and faithless. But, history shows... intime... those nations fall. We must learn from history or repeat it's mistakes. When money, fame and power become our lord... they will become our master. They are not benevolent. In fact, Solomon discovered they were meaningless and recorded it Ecclesiastes 1.
Then I stumbled on this one today:
When you have much... don't become proud and forget the Lord your God. I think there is much food for thought in this passage.
Our nation will celebrate another birthday...241 years. Some good. Some painful. Some God seeking. Some chasing our own way. We have been richly blessed with freedom to act with free will. With great freedom comes great responsibility.
The will of a nation is not always in line with the will of God unless the nation seeks his face. I don't spend enough time praying for our leaders. Again, the message of the gospel of Christ in a nutshell. "Love me. Love your neighbors... all of them." The widows, the orphans, the least of these, the sick, the hungry and the lost are included in the all of them. So are the leaders and the power brokers. God moves in mighty ways when His people pray together.
I was taught priorities, but sometimes mine get mixed up. I am reminded of what a student said to me when I commented on his Jeremiah 29:13 t-shirt. "Mrs. Smith, everyone loves to quote Jeremiah 29:11, but you can't leave out verses 12&13.
To claim the amazing promise, we must pray and seek him with our whole hearts.
One priority I was taught was to respect and pray for those serving in arms to protect and defend. I never met my great Uncles, they died in service. My Dad and Uncle Mel served. My identical twin cousins are career Navy... at least thus far. My sister served and took her last breath far from home on a Kadena Air Force base. I am grateful for the people of faith who were a part of her time there, and for the salt and light she shed and spread.
We can make it a priority to pray for our leaders and for those who protect and defend freedoms borders. We can pray for wisdom. We can pray for protection and the protectors in service. We can pray for Godly interventions. We can pray for peace.
May our hearts long for peace more than power and money. May we be a nation that runs to the Lord, not just in times of trouble but seeking and chasing His heart.
If you don't know the "Salute to the Armed Forces", here it is: